Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Legislation Introduced to Promote Resilient Rangelands and Effective Grazing Management

by Colter Brown

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), introduced the Resiliency for Ranching and Natural Conservation Health (RANCH) Act. This legislation will promote resilient and healthy rangelands and effective grazing management across the West.

“In Wyoming, ranchers’ livelihoods depend on preserving the health of our multiple-use public lands. Livestock grazing plays a critical role in maintaining these lands,” said Barrasso. “The RANCH Act will help ranchers and rural communities as they work with Washington. It will assist ranchers during natural disasters, so they can keep working. The bill also extends grazing permits by up to 20 years and invests in better land management. The RANCH Act promotes robust rangelands for Wyoming’s livestock and healthy habitat for Wyoming’s wildlife.”

“The Wyoming Stock Growers Association commends Senator Barrasso for undertaking common sense solutions to challenges that have faced the public land ranching industry in Wyoming and elsewhere in recent years. The RANCH Act will provide badly needed access to emergency pasture in a timely manner when our ranchers are faced with the loss of the use of their normal public land allotments.  Far too often, when both the permittee and the rancher agree on the need for these responses, regulatory burdens have kept them from being available.  The establishment of the Rangeland Resiliency Fund will foster collaborative improvements that benefit both livestock and wildlife while enhancing management of the public resource.  Finally, the authorization of the use of categorical exclusions for permit renewals where appropriate will enable the land agencies to address the overwhelming burden of timely permit renewal,” said Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.

Raylee Honeycutt, Director of Natural Resources for the Montana Stockgrowers Association said, “Our initial review of the bill is very optimistic! There is some language in the bill that would invest fund balances for the Land and Water Conservation Fund to be an interest bearing account that directs portions to go toward rangeland improvements. Not only are there some big wins in the world of grazing allotments and permits but some potential funding for rangeland improvements which we are excited to see.”


The RANCH Act will:


  • Allow temporary utilization of vacant grazing allotments during extreme events/disasters;
  • Allocate funding for rangeland health and resiliency projects and public access agreements to land-locked public lands for co-benefits to hunting and recreation;
  • Extend the period of grazing permits/leases for up to 20-years, when certain conditions are met; and
  • Provide responsive and nimble management through the use of a categorical exclusion for renewal of certain grazing permits/leases and for certain actions during extreme events/disasters.


Read the section-by-section of the RANCH Act here.


Read the text of the RANCH Act here.


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